After our fairly successful session at Higham Farm last year, Shane and I decided on a return trip this Spring, again for 24 hours and again targeting the resident tench.
Shane had hatched a plan of attack and I liked it. I really liked it. This time we would fish on the Specimen Lake, which can only be fished on a 24 hour ticket. Because of this, it tends to only attract carp anglers so the numerous other species resident in the lake only ever see the bank when they pick up a disgruntled carper’s bait! Specimen tench and bream were definitely on the cards, plus who knows what large roach and perch could lurk in there.
Besides fishing this lake, our approach was a little unorthodox too. Rather than simply using scaled-back carp tactics, we would go armed with a couple of gallons of maggots each and fish positively by feeding aggresively – by introducing a large bed of maggots via a spomb, then topping the swims up when necessary.
I chose to hair rig a mixture of buoyant Drennan imitation maggots and live maggots to create a balanced Medusa bait designed to hover just above the lake bed, without any putty of shot to anchor it.
To create the maggot medusa I threaded an imitation maggot lengthways onto the hair, followed by a small tied-on rig ring. Then I threaded a mixture of real and fake maggots onto some 4lb mono with an eyed needle, passed the needle through the rig ring and then tied it off. This is a really tidy way to attach numerous maggots to a hair. Some anglers prefer to fish with just a couple of fake maggots but in this instance I wanted a big bait (I wouldn’t have complained too much if one of the specimen lake’s “nuisance fish” carp picked up my bait!) that would stand out over the large bed of loosefed maggots.
|My balanced maggot medusa rig ready to fish on the helicopter rig setup.|
|My medusa rig for the margin rod, clearly showing the fake maggot on the hair and two fake maggots tied on with the real ones. Also note this bait is glugged & ready to cast.|
Shane got off work earlier than I did and had prepared the swims by the time I arrived. With only a couple of hours daylight left I quickly got settled in and cast out. I could have gone with a swimfeeder to introduce free offerings close to my hookbait, but I opted instead for PVA stockings stuffed with maggots.
My two baited spots were a marginal corner with overhanging bushes to my right, and at the bottom of the drop-off from an island straight in front of me.
For the margin rig I opted for a free-running rig with an Avid Carp PVA bag clip attached to the lead eye:
|PVA stocking full of maggots, attached to the lead eye via an Avid Carp PVA clip|
For the island rig I setup an inline lead to be fished helicopter-style, with a PVA bag clip attached to what would be the hooklink swivel if it was fished inline:
|My adapted in-line lead setup to fish helicopter style. This was a really effective rig, both as an anti-tagle rig and as a fish-catching rig.|
|The helicopter rig loaded up and ready to cast out.|
Things started well for me, as I quickly landed 2 bream – including a new PB of 7lb 15oz – and a perch before sunset, then everything went quiet.
|A good bream from Higham Farm specimen lake – a very promising start…|
I got plenty of sleep because my alarms barely sounded all night. I did recast the rigs with fresh maggot stockings a couple of times, to keep some bait going in.
Just before daybreak I was awoken by a screaming run on the margin rod. After a gutsy fight around the tree roots and low branches to my right, I got the shakes. I could see I was attached to a nice tench which would easily break my very modest PB. I finally had control of the fish and was guiding it across the surface towards my landing net when everything went slack! Hook pull! Damn it!
I swore quietly at myself for letting a golden opportunity for a PB tench slip through my fingers. Then I snapped myself out of my navel gazing and hastily rebaited the rod (I also changed the hook for a different pattern, just in case) and dropped the rig back in the marginal spot. I didn’t have to wait long for this rod to scream away again and – although not a PB – I soon had a lovely tench on the bank.
|A lovely tench which almost made up for the bigger one I lost earlier.|
That was it for the margin rod, no more bites were forthcoming. But in the first hour of daylight the other rod began to see some action again. A shoal of bream had moved back over the bait – almost 12 hours after they last gave me a bite – and I proceeded to land a couple from in front of the island in a frantic hour before things went dead for the whole day.
|A pair of decent bream from a small specimen carp lake|
I was fishing on a 24 hour ticket and I knew I would be leaving just before the feeding spell had kicked in the evening before. I prepared the swim during the afternoon, laying down more bait, then packed everything up except the rods, alarms, bait and net. I started getting line bites and very tentative bites, but nothing proper and soon my 24 hours was up and I had to vacate the swim. I learned a lot about the venue’s potential, and also about fishing with maggots for larger fish – a technique I’ll be using plenty in future.